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Preserved Buses and the London Congestion Charge

Some misunderstandings seem to exist regarding how the London Congestion Charge affects preserved buses. Many believe that preserved buses are exempt from payment and therefore may drive through the charging zones without incurring penalty. This is not the case.

At the time of writing, the Transport for London web site indicates:
The charge applies 0700 - 1800 Monday to Friday, there is no charge No charge on weekends, public holidays, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive, or between 18:00 and 07:00.
The fee is £10.

Vehicles with nine or more seats: You need to register with us for your 100 per cent discount if you drive a vehicle with nine or more seats that is not licensed with the DVLA as a bus (taxation classes 'buses' and 'reduced pollution buses').

In theory, all you need to do is complete a downloadable application form and send it in (with a copy of your registration Document) and (in my experience) you will get your discount authorised within days. Annual renewal is necessary.

In practice, it is most likely you will meet with a wall of bureaucracy. As evidence that the vehicle meets the criteria, they require proof of seating capacity, requiring:

  • photocopy of MoT certificate (but most preserved vehicles' certificates do not show seating capacity)
  • photocopy of CIF or COIF (but most preserved vehicles do not have these)
  • photocopy of insurance certificate (but most preserved vehicles' certificates do not show seating capacity)
  • another proof that shows the vehicle's seating capacity

I spoke to TfL and was told that "I would accept photographs of the interior of the vehicle but I can't guarantee others will do the same".

I found three of my five applications accepted whilst the two others were simply ignored. When I enquired, I was told they had been rejected (for unspecified reasons) and I should re-apply. I applied twice more, but heard nothing further.

It should be noted that the discount is not applicable until your application has been processed, so don't leave planning your trip and applying for discount until the last minute!

It is also no longer free. From 2011 there is a £10 Registration Fee imposed. At each renewal you are now required to provide fresh copies of all documentation too.

Useful sources


All legislation is subject to change at some time or other. The most up to date information will be found on TFL's web site.

This page was last updated on Sunday, 28-Jan-2018 10:22:40 GMT

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